CHICKENS HAVE COME HOME TO
22 August 2003
I feel like Bambi's mother walking out onto the meadow, head up, eyes darting here and
there, ears pricked forward listening for any sound. Wary.
Over the years that I've had a journal, I've read, from time to time, about people who
have had their cloak of anonymity discovered. People who felt they were safe on the
Internet and could be open and honest because nobody knew that they were spilling their
guts in public, that they were telling very personal tales for all eyes to read, feeling
they were safe because nobody knew who they were.
Some of those people are very good friends of mine (and you know who you are!)
I figured that I was being OK because I did not adopt an on-line persona. My name
really IS Bev Sykes and I really do live in Davis, California. Not only that, but
everybody that I know has heard about this journal and most of them read it, at least
What's more, I really didn't mind knowing that anybody who knew me was reading this
journal. I felt that, with very rare exceptions, I'd kept the things that I consider
private private. There are times when things are going on in my life that are not for
public consumption and I just never write about them. Sometimes that's a little difficult
when that is the sole focus of your life at a certain moment and you have to find something
to write about because you put out something every day.
I felt pretty smug about how I handle this journal. I write from the heart, I sometimes
plum the depths, but I try to keep things out of it that I wouldn't want to be discovered
by the wrong people.
Even with all that smugness, I did get caught at one point. I had been too open about
certain things and people I never dreamed would hear about or be interested in this
journal stumbled across it. People were hurt and I feel bad about that. It was a major
lapse in judgement and I've monitored myself a bit more closely since that unpleasant
But today I'm throwing caution to the wind and, giving myself a bit broader boundry,
expressing feelings that I have not expressed before.
Why now? Why today?
Because today I feel vindicated like I have never felt before. I feel validated. I
feel...well...downright wonderful. It's the bitch in me. And I don't care if
somehow Dr. G stumbles across this or not (I suspect that he's so self-centered he
wouldn't even read it)
Replacement #2 quit.
I was somewhat smug when Replacement #1 quit. People had told me he would have
difficulty replacing me, but she seemed so competent that I felt she'd be fine.
Ultimately, her reasons for quitting were such that it made both Dr. G and me wonder why
she took the job in the first place.
Replacement #2 was different. She was competent in a way I never felt competent. She
was organized. She was tidy. I was pleased that Dr. G had found someone who fit into the
office but there was a teensy part of me that was disappointed that she seemed to be able
to do it all, plus keep the office organized and tidy.
I got an inkling that things were not all as hunky dory as I thought they were when she
called to ask how I handled overtime. I told her that I had never claimed overtime when I
put in 10 hours a day. I figured that it was my choice and I knew Dr. G would not have
approved of my getting overtime (he feels it's a 30 hour a week job). I admitted that I
had run the office more as a friend than as a business person--it's one of my failings in
all of my jobs.
I go into a job, determined to become businesslike about it, but I get sucked into the
damn people-pleasing flaw in my personality and I decide to be a "good guy,"
even though I know my boss(es) would never ever act that way and that to them I'm just an
employee. I've been burned on that in nearly every job I've ever held. When things are
good, I'm a colleague and a collaborator. But when there are bumps, I'm tossed aside like
used Kleenex. I've accepted that as my own problem for getting too personally involved
with the higher-ups.
Dr. G made it easier to be more business like than I've ever been in a job. He does not
allow someone to "own" a job. He micromanages things to death. I put up with it,
but it always made me feel like an idiot. He is not one of those guys who rant and rage.
It's the quiet "lectures" which made me feel less than human. I rarely went to
him with a great idea for improving the business when he listened. He's a one man show and
does not invite collaboration. When we moved into the computer age and he realized that I
knew my way around the Internet, a strange new world for him, he did, on very rare
occasions, actually listen to my suggestions and he might even once or twice have
acknowledged that I'd done something good. But praise--or even acknowledgement--for work
done well is not part of his method of operation. He's much more quick to point out
shortcomings than anything else.
So I was never thanked for all of my ideas for improving his book. I was never thanked
for holding back from cashing my paychecks--sometimes as long as 3 weeks--because I knew
we had no money in the bank. I was never thanked for working 10 hours in a day, or working
on Saturday or Sunday to do the things I couldn't finish during the week. I never felt
truly appreciated. But then the goal of a job is not appreciation.
Still, it does make you feel more like working harder when you realize that your work
is at least acknowledged, when you feel someone values you as en employee. (I did
feel appreciated when he gave me two raises in one month -- but it was a fleeting period!)
There were many watershed moments for me, when I said "this is it--I've had
it," but the final was when I put in for vacation and sick leave hours after my
accident and he told me I'd claimed too much because I'd never worked that many hours in a
week. I was positively apoplectic in my anger, but held my tongue (and claimed those hours
anyway). That was when it all died for me. That was really when I realized that there was
no way I wanted to work for this man again. It was the transcription this past week
that underscored that for me, but the real end came with the issue of vacation/sick leave
At the time I was figuring out my vacation/sick leave, I had just worked part of every
day for a week, in a lot of pain, with my arm immobilized, just because he was in a bind.
One day I ended up spending 7 hours there because he was going to drive me home and
kept saying "just a few minutes more" for the whole afternoon. I was never
thanked for coming in in the weeks after my accident. It was just expected, because
he needed me to.
I've held back from talking about the real negative parts of working for Dr. G, out of
both loyalty to him, as his employee, and concern that somehow he might read it. But
knowing what dealing with him does to my stomach... realizing that just the act of doing
his transcription again gives me insomnia... feeling that sinking feeling when I look at
caller ID and see that it's him...again...makes me feel that I don't care any more.
Replacement #2, who has much more self-esteem than I, tells me that she told him that
the job was significantly more than one person can handle, and that she couldn't put up
with his micromanaging. I could never be that open with him. But I'm thrilled that she
Will he learn something? Of course not. Will he realize what a good deal he had with
me? Of course not.
But I'm smiling because I know what a good deal he had
with me and it has been an incredible boost to my sagging self-esteem to hear that now two
otherwise competent women have said that the job I held for two years was too much to be
handled by one person.
(It's almost as much satisfying as watching Sutter Health try to fill the job they told me I was not competent to hold any longer. The job I'd held for three years. I've been gone from that job for five years and they are on about their 7th replacement. One of them never made it through the training period, another one only lasted 6 weeks.)
Best part about all of this is that when he finds someone who can take the job over
again, I'm totally off the hook for training this person, because I'll be on the other
side of the world.